As I gear up my toons in patch 4.3 for World of Warcraft, I wanted to share my own experiences as I geared up my various toons with the current expansion for those who might share my play style. First off, if you’ve read my blog, I am a casual gamer. I don’t consider myself a hardcore raider or PVPer. But I do know enough of the game to figure out how to do okay for myself. At the same time, I’m not a completionist meaning that I don’t need to experience every single piece of content for the sake of it. My goals simply are to do as much content as possible without being too frustrated. As you may know from reading my blogs, I’ve had issues with the current expansion in that certain elements were probably made more difficult, at least in a group environment. So I avoided most of the instances and raids up until the current patch. I’ve seen other people on my server who seem to feel the same way so I figure that I’m probably average when it comes to playing this game in terms of mentality.
With that in mind, I wanted to discuss how you can avoid those hiccups through my experiences. First, because of the way this expansion was structured, I focused more of my efforts on leveling various toons up to 85. Part of the reason was to avoid dealing with the horribly high auction house prices on my server. So in that situation, I made several toons for the purpose of professions. Although it was a slow and painful process, the long term benefit was getting to this current stage where I am starting to reap the fruits of my labor.
The key for me was getting at least one toon to level 85. That toon would then proceed to feed the other toons. On this server, I focused on my protection paladin. While he isn’t as geared as my death knight nor hunter anymore, he provided a great foundation with mining and blacksmithing. From there, I leveled a DK, druid and imported my hunter (who was level 80 on a PVP server) then worked on my shaman and warlock. From a profession viewpoint, these toons were jewelry crafter/miner, herbalism/inscription, skinning/leatherworking, tailoring/enchanting and herbalism/alchemy. I still have four other toons, one of which is my warrior who is a miner/engineer, but I’ll finish her up a little later. Regardless, the idea here was to provide all the key gathering professions and later the crafting professions. Taking a DK early on was critical because it afforded me the easy ability to mine lower level areas and provide precious ore to my paladin. As a result, my paladin was able to get his blacksmithing skill up fast. Not to mention using the spare ore that he would gather to put on the auction house for a little gold.
The next goal was to max out the crafting professions. This aspect was a lot tougher and would force me to make some heavy purchases on the auction house, especially on rarer mats. Although initially I couldn’t craft any epic items nor do any high level enchants, just having the max crafting skill would prepare me for the current patch where Chaos Orbs would be made available as BoEs. In turn, I could focus on making gold to purchase the occasional BoE epic on the auction house by doing various dailies and improving my reputation with the different factions.
Up until patch 4.3, I focused on my protection paladin, doing Tol Barad weeklies to pick up honor and converting it into justice points. It allowed me to pick up a few ilvl 359 gear along with the Molten Front dailies, which gave me access to the venders that sold ilvl 365 gear. Not exactly a fun process, but I managed to get my paladin to ilvl 362. But I hit a wall with him and that caused me to switch my focus to my hunter.
Similarly, I was either grinding dailies, making PVP gear via leatherworking or making large purchases on the AH on my hunter. However, he was just on the ilvl 353 mark with his gear. So once patch 4.3 hit, I could immediately send him into the new Heroics. To avoid getting kicked for having crap gear, I partnered with a warrior friend who had fairly decent gear. That allowed one of us to make up in DPS. For my hunter though, I prepared him by purchasing the ilvl 365 gun, cape (from the starting Molten Front quest), the ring and later the trinket. Doing the Molten Front dailies opened up enough Guardians of Mount Hyjal reputation to allow for the purchase of the ilvl 359 mail boots. Earlier, I picked up both the chest and belt pieces on the AH and got enough reputation with the Dragonmaw clan to get the ilvl 346 helmet. At this point along with my crafted 358 gear, I felt that it was enough to start doing heroics.
You pretty much just need to do a run through 1-2 times each to get a general feel for each heroic. They aren’t particularly difficult and you can read about the encounter on wowhead or checkout clips from Tankspot on youtube. Either way, the mechanics for each fight are reasonably structured, the instances run fast and you’ll probably get 1-2 pieces of gear per run the first time through. Make sure you do all the quests along the way to pick up the quest gear as well and explain to your group that you need to complete the quests just in case they requeue.
Now, the reason why I decided to go on my hunter as opposed to my protection paladin at first (especially since I could reduce wait time) is that I wanted to get practice at each encounter. The easiest way is to queue as a DPS just to see each fight. Don’t lolcharge into any encounter and just watch for things on the ground. Hopefully, you can make it through the first three instances to pick up 3-6 pieces of gear so your DPS increases as you learn each instance. Don’t give up too soon if you wipe either. There’s a good chance you’ll wipe. If you get blamed for whatever reason (outside of doing incredibly stupid things or being a jerk), then just keep rolling or be honest about your situation. Since these encounters aren’t as difficult as the earlier heroics, you probably will have less of a chance of getting kicked to curb. And the gear makes persistence worth the effort.
Of course, you might be asking why did I decide to gear a frost death knight as opposed to my paladin? In my case, I was still learning the encounters and began working on him. This would give me double the opportunities to learn each encounter both as a ranged DPS and a melee DPS. I felt that tanking requires you to be more on your game, so learning each encounter as best as you can is better than just lolcharging in. Also, I don’t have good gear as a retribution paladin, so it makes gearing entering into these heroics much tougher as a DPS.
With my DK, I practically geared him within two days of reaching the minimum requirement. Part of what I did was again buying the occasional epic on AH, crafting the two handed ilvl 365 sword and ilvl 359 breast plate (I think). The rest was just picking up what I could from the Molten Front or Guardians of Hyjal and crafting PVP gear. The only tragedy in this was that after spending a great deal of gold on crafting the sword, I probably used it for only a few encounters before upgrading to the Chieftain’s two handed axe that drops off the tauren in the first heroic instance. Then again, if you look at things in the long term, this situation is what you call an investment.
Now, my next target is my shaman. I’m gearing him similarly to my hunter except that I had to buy the two Tankards O’ Terror items from the AH to get his weapons up (since there really isn’t any decent craftable weapons for an enhancement shaman). I did cheat a little by picking up the pvp relic and buying the strength DPS necklace from the Molten Front vender. Sure, the necklace was cheating, but my excuse in this situation was that he could use the expertise and mastery to compensate for the lacking agility.
Again, why gear up all these toons? Here’s another way to look at it. If I only geared up one, then I can only get 1000 VP per week, which is about 7 runs for Heroic mode. That’s a base line of 7 chances X 3 per boss encounter along with justice points. More importantly, that’s only 21 chances of getting items like chaos orbs. Gearing up multiple toons allow me to increase my chance of getting BoE epics, chaos orbs, VP and justice points. Down the line, I will eventually have enough gear where justice points and even VP won’t matter anymore. When that happens, I can either purchase JP (or VP) bracers for my other toons or put those on AH. Also, having multiple toons means I can join the raid finder more than once a week, which again means more practice, more VP, etc.
One major positive is that I can do all this solo, without a guild even. I can get good end game gear, experience end game raids and just have fun. It is nice to have a guild support you, but you cannot depend on other people to carry you all the way through. My methodology truly allows the casual player to experience as much of the game as you can without losing too much sleep.